G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories (Dreamworks)
Swizz Beatz

By Kory Wilcoxson

You won't find a single yodel on Swizz Beatz's solo album (the Swizz is for his K-Swiss shoes), but you'll find all other types of hootin' and hollerin'. Beatz (nee Kasseem Dean) made a name for himself as the mastermind behind "Ruff Ryders Anthem" one of 1998's biggest rap hits. Since then, he's continued to establish himself as one of the top-flight producers in the business.

Stories reflects the star power the Beatz is attracting. The album features A-list artists like Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, Lil' Kim, Eve, Nas, P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg. In fact, the disc has more of a mix-tape feel as the all-star MCs take turns laying down their lyrics.

Beatz is an excellent DJ who favors melodic, progressive beats over thump-a-thump bass heavy tracks. Stories only falters when Beatz leaves the turntables to step behind the mic himself; alongside such great rap talent, he sounds average at best.

The songs cover a wide range of rap and hip-hop, from the overused R&B ingénue-meets-rapper formula of "Ghetto Love" to the weed-inspired "Good Times." There's even an unlikely collaboration between Ja Rule and Mettalica (!) that would have fit better on the "Judgment Night" soundtrack than on this album.

Stories is a good but not great album and comes across more as a "look who I know" than a "look what I can do" from Swizz Beatz. Regardless, Stories should help his stock continue to climb in the rap world.